This morning, Monday 13 December 2021, a group of protesters blocked entrance points at the EcoPark, an energy from waste facility in Edmonton, Enfield. The EcoPark receives vast volumes of black-bin-bag, mostly contaminated waste collected by the seven north London boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest. (North London Waste Authority (NLWA) manages disposal through a company it wholly owns, LondonEnergy Ltd.)
NLWA Chair, Cllr Clyde Loakes said: "Today’s protests highlight the very problem that NLWA is tasked with tackling: how to deal with the results of never-ending, unsustainable consumption. Every minute, every hour of every day, Londoners are cramming their bins to the brim. By 10am today, hundreds of tonnes of waste had already been collected from north Londoners’ homes by thousands of our colleagues. Our staff, who are essential workers, are now having to divert their focus from dealing with this black-bin-bag, contaminated waste in the most hygienic and environmentally responsible way possible to handling logistics to safely divert all this rubbish to alternative locations. This will greatly increase lorry movements on borough roads, causing unnecessary environmental impact.
"Sadly, what the protesters might not realise is that much of this waste will need to be sent to landfill where it will rot. This is the worst possible outcome because waste in landfill releases methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas, which has a warming impact up to 34 times greater than CO₂. It’s ironic too that this action is impacting the construction of the state-of-the-art £100M recycling facilities now happening on site, that we in north London so desperately need, if we are to achieve recycling levels of 50% plus.
"NLWA has frequently pointed out that it is only with systemic change implemented by Government and business that we can stop the trashing of precious resources.
"We are urging the Government to make recycling compulsory, to ban many more unecological products such as single-use, unrecyclable plastics, and to massively reduce the dumping of waste in landfill among a raft of measures.
"In terms of our existing energy-from-waste plant, it is over 50 years old and has reached the end of its operational life. It is our duty to protect public health from unhygienic waste, so we are building a new facility with the highest possible environmental standards to deal with black-bin-bags. We will utilise the energy generated to provide electricity for up to 127,000 homes and heat and hot water for up to 50,000 homes, meaning no gas boilers.
"The new facility will be among the most advanced in the world and use Selective Catalytic Reduction technology to convert the nitrogen oxide created by incinerating the waste to create energy, into water and nitrogen (which is a harmless gas that makes up 78% of the Earth’s atmosphere).
"It will also save the equivalent of 215,000 tonnes of CO₂ each year – which is as beneficial as taking 111,000 cars off the road – compared to sending the waste to rot in landfill.
"NLWA is also ensuring that the facility will be able to install carbon capture and storage, as soon as the technology becomes viable, which will see the facility preventing carbon emissions in the future.
"And as a public owned facility, NLWA will also be able to run it at a lower capacity once Londoners reduce waste in future."